In a thoughtful eulogy for Robin Williams, Tom Hoopes compares the troubled comic actor to a ‘fool-priest’ or a jester who ministers by making us laugh at the absurd and the painful.
That is what priests do also. The difference: the priest looks to the ultimate meaning of life, God, to help us see the purpose of suffering. The comedian looks at the ultimate absurdity of life to help us accept our lot in life.
Ultimately, Williams ministered to all of us. For that, we owe him thanks. Pray that he will find the rest for his soul that he sought to give to so many others.
This priestly comparison is unfortunate though because it suggests Faith, and Hoopes’ glowing praise for Williams’ gifts and efforts fails to address something very important; the tremendous scandal of the final example he left to the world. His is a loving example yes, but it’s also one of a lifetime of self-loathing and abuse, with a grave and self-absorbed exit that must never been imitated.
We can be grateful and pray that perhaps Williams will see Heaven someday, but if suicide was a ticket to get there, the whole world would be lining up.